NBC’s Chuck Todd: ‘No One is Above Integrity and Credibility. Period.’

Candid remarks about the news media and presidential campaigns.

Chuck Todd Obama Book Jeff GreenfieldChuck Todd‘s comment referred to the controversies surrounding TV broadcasters Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly. Because if it’s Sunday evening, it’s Meet the Press’ moderator at New York’s 92Y.

Todd appeared at the event for a conversation with veteran TV reporter and political analyst Jeff Greenfield to discuss his new book, The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House, and to talk politics. While he had plenty of candid observations about the president and candidates Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, he also weighed in on the sagas at NBC and Fox News.

NBC News and Fox News Turmoil

Greenfield questioned whether the Brian Williams controversy would impact journalists by making them more empathetic to the people they cover. Todd’s reply referenced the charged and changed media landscape:

“We’re the story because we’re the largest remaining legacy news organization, so we get more attention. Sites like BuzzFeed and Gawker are trying to win viewers. Feeding frenzies are terrible, but there’s only so much we can do in response.”

“In a weird way, media personalities get treated like politicians now. I’ve learned to be more empathetic to politicians because we’re also bombarded with angry emails and social media comments.”

“It’s clear when the Bill O’Reilly story broke that Fox treated it like a campaign and NBC treated ours [the Brian Williams issue] like a news organization. No one is above integrity and credibility. Period.” (Note: PRNewser covered Brian Williams’ 92Y appearance in 2013)

Meet the Press Content

Todd briefly touched upon his role as Meet the Press moderator and things he’d like to change about the show, but made no comments about the show’s moderator change last year.

“The most frustrating part of my job is not having enough time to interview each guest. I wish I had an hour with each one instead of only a few minutes. I want to create a documentary series.”

When Greenfield suggested that floundering MSNBC would be a good channel to air additional NBC News content, Todd said that would be up to Andrew Lack, incoming chairman of NBC News and MSNBC who starts in April.

Hillary Clinton’s press coverage and political skills

Referring to Hillary Clinton, Greenfield said the email issue had a Groundhog Day aspect to it. Both Maureen Dowd of The New York Times and David Remnick of The New Yorker were especially tough on her in recent columns, and Todd gave his take:

“It’s all about the exhaustion over the Clinton drama. I’m taken aback by the totality of the media coverage. It’s a legitimate story but the coverage doesn’t fit the crime.” (For the record, on Sunday Meet the Press asked whether Hillary is “too big to fail” and whether her party has a Plan B in place.)

“Hillary is a ‘celebritician’. She’s still not a good politician, she still doesn’t like it. She’s had to learn politics but she’s a policy wonk. She only tolerates the glad-handing, she’s not comfortable with it.”

“Hillary hasn’t walked alone since 1991; she’s had secret service protection since then, so her greatest challenge is to break out of the bubble and feel the public’s pain.”

Prospects of Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush presidential race

Todd went on to compare Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush and to forecast the impact of a Clinton vs. Bush contest on the American public:

“Hillary should pray that Jeb Bush is her opponent because the Clintons will look populist compared to the Bushes; the Clintons are still ‘new money’ and the Bushes are ‘old money.’ However, if we have a Clinton vs. Bush election I’m worried about the U.S. electorate’s psyche, since it will turn off many voters.”

“Individually Hillary and Jeb go deep enough on policy and think more about issues than other candidates. But it will be a horrible campaign. For voters, It will be ‘which 8 years did you hate more?’ The media will treat it as 2 celebrity families duking it out.”

(Image courtesy of 92Y)